EU-Georgia Mobility Partnership moves towards better dialogue and monitoring
The first meeting of the EU-Georgia Mobility Partnership Local Cooperation Platform took place on 9 June 2017 in Tbilisi. Representatives of EU Institutions, EU Member States, Georgian authorities and international organisations discussed the mechanisms for dialogue and for monitoring projects under the Joint Declaration on a Mobility Partnership between the European Union and Georgia. The meeting highlighted ongoing projects on legal migration and mobility, fighting irregular migration, reintegration and asylum.
Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, tackled the importance of the Mobility Partnership, which remains the key framework for the EU and Georgia in steering migration and mobility issues. He also referred to the need to ensure a reliable structure and mechanisms for the dialogue under the Mobility Partnership and for the monitoring of projects. The latter should ideally involve an online monitoring tool which is also available to the public.
A kick-off meeting launching a new EU-funded project under the Mobility Partnership “High Fidelity – Exercising for Asylum Procedures", a joint initiative of Georgia and Estonia, also took place after the meeting.
Georgia: Leading MEPs react to the refusal of the political parties to reach an agreement
In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
Joint press release following the 6th Association council meeting between the European Union and Georgia
The European Union and Georgia held the 6th meeting of the Association council on 16 March 2021. The Association council took note of the 2021 Association Implementation Report on Georgia and assessed the state of EU-Georgia relations since the last Association council in March 2019.
The Association council welcomed Georgia's progress on its European path, including in the challenging COVID-19 context, and recognised the efforts of the Georgian Government to contain the virus as well as to ensure targeted social assistance to those in need. Both sides acknowledged the crucial importance of the EU rapid assistance to Georgia in the fight against COVID as a vivid sign of solidarity.
Both sides reaffirmed their continued commitment to bringing tangible benefits to the lives of Georgian citizens across key areas of cooperation: economic development and market opportunities; strengthening institutions and good governance; connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change; enhancing mobility and people-to-people contacts.
The Association council noted that the elections of 31 October and 21 November 2020 were competitive and that, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected. The Association council agreed on the importance of addressing all recommendations related to the shortcomings identified by international observers, including OSCE/ODIHR, through ambitious and inclusive electoral reform in order to strengthen the electoral environment and render it more favourable for the democratic conduct of elections.
The Association council strongly regretted the deepening political polarisation in Georgia. The EU called for a swift resolution to the ongoing political situation, for all parties to step up efforts to de-escalate the situation and come together to identify and agree on common ground. The Association council agreed that it was vital for all actors to continue working, in the EU-supported mediation, to find an early resolution to Georgia's political crisis.
The Association council reiterated its call on all political actors to work together and to maintain open dialogue in Georgia, including with civil society, in order to further strengthen democratic institutions, consolidate pluralistic democracy and advance reforms. Both sides stressed the need to continue the successful cooperation between the EU and Georgia on strategic communication and countering disinformation.
The Association council recalled that a great number of Georgian citizens have benefited from short term visa free travel to Schengen countries in recent years. It welcomed the continuous efforts of Georgia to address violations of the visa-free travel requirements, including the latest legislative amendments to the Law of Georgia on ‘Rules for Georgian citizens on Leaving and Entering Georgia' and underlined the importance of its effective implementation. The Association council underlined the critical importance of sustained efforts by Georgia to continue to fulfil the visa liberalisation benchmarks, in particular in order to strengthen and maintain the recent decrease in the number of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Georgian nationals in the Schengen + area. The EU encouraged Georgia to further enhance cooperation with EU Member States to counter irregular migration and organised crime. Both sides welcomed a renewed working arrangement signed between Georgia and Frontex, as well as Georgia's acquisition of observer status in the European Migration Network.
The Association council welcomed progress made in the implementation of Georgia's Human Rights Strategy and its Action Plan, as well as the important work of the Human Rights Protection Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The EU recognised Georgia's efforts in this area and encouraged Georgia to continue efforts to effectively implement the anti-discrimination law and to ensure protection for all persons belonging to minorities, and to ensure gender equality. The Council recalled the commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, race, ethnic origin, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. The Association council welcomed substantial progress made by Georgia to create an effective labour inspection system, in order to further improve working conditions and address the challenges in this area in line with international and European labour standards. It also discussed the importance of continuing efforts in this direction.
Both sides welcomed the progress made by Georgia in the implementation of the Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The EU continued to be the most important trading partner of Georgia. The EU and Georgia agreed to identify further products with export potential to the EU, for which EU can provide assistance. Both sides welcomed successful implementation of structural reforms and underlined the importance of ongoing reforms related to the improvement of the investment climate in Georgia. The Association council welcomed the ongoing work to draft a new SME Development Strategy 2021-2025 and the EU side confirmed its readiness to support its implementation.
The Association council welcomed the disbursements of Macro-Financial Assistance to Georgia in November 2020 and urged Georgia to continue the implementation of outstanding agreed policy measures in order to enable the disbursement of the second instalment of COVID Macro-Financial Assistance to Georgia (of which 75 million EUR was disbursed in 2020). The EU encouraged Georgia to ensure the sustainability of already implemented reforms and maintain macro-economic stability.
The Association council reiterated Georgia's strategic role in the field of energy, transport and connectivity and increasingly as a transportation and logistics hub in the region. The EU committed to continue engaging closely with Georgia on the connectivity agenda, including through the gradual completion of the indicative core Trans-European networks of Transport (TEN-T), as a step towards enhancing connectivity and international trade between Europe and Asia. The sides also highlighted the importance of Black Sea connectivity. The EU took note of Georgia's request for support in the elaboration and implementation of a plan for better Black Sea connectivity.
The Association council reiterated Georgia's key role as a partner for European energy security and stressed the country's transit role for Caspian hydrocarbon resources to reach European markets, notably via the Southern Gas Corridor and through the Black Sea, with a view to strengthening EU-Georgia interconnections. The EU stressed its continued commitment to further supporting the roll-out of energy efficiency standards in public buildings, based on legislative reforms in key areas. The EU reiterated its continuous support to reinvigorating Georgia's agriculture and rural sector to improve living conditions in rural areas. The Association council noted the importance of enhanced cooperation in the area of civil protection.
The EU recognised Georgia as a key partner in the region and acknowledged the importance of EU-Georgia cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy. The Association council recalled the issues discussed during the third EU-Georgia Strategic Security Dialogue in October 2019 and looked forward to the next meeting in this format. The EU expressed appreciation for Georgia's continued contribution to EU-led crisis management operations and missions in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Mali, as well as openness to supporting the strengthening of Georgia's capacities and resilience.
The EU reiterated its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. The EU reiterated its firm commitment to peaceful conflict resolution in Georgia by using all instruments at its disposal including the policy of non-recognition and engagement. The work of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia and of the EU Monitoring Mission demonstrate this strong commitment.
The Association council took note of the judgement of 21 January 2021 of the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber in the inter-State case concerning the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008 and its consequences which concluded that after the 12 August 2008 the Russian Federation, "exercising effective control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia", violated several provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The Association council stressed the critical importance of the Geneva International Discussions for addressing and resolving the challenges stemming from the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008. It also reiterated that full and effective Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) are essential for addressing the safety and humanitarian needs of conflict-affected population on the ground. In this regard, the Council welcomed the resumption of Ergneti IPRM meetings and emphasised the crucial importance of resuming the Gali IPRM.
The Council expressed concern about signing a so-called programme on the creation of a common socio-economic space between Russia and Georgian region of Abkhazia as well as other steps further undermining Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, deterioration of the security and human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, especially with regard to intensified military build-up, installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers along the dividing lines, long-term closure of "crossing points". Concerns also include the situation with ethnic discrimination of Georgians, restriction of freedom of movement, including for health care and access to other social services, arbitrary detentions, violation of property rights and education in mother tongue, the persistent obstacles to the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their places of origin, and deprivation of life of Archil Tatunashvili and Giga Otkhozoria. In this regard, the Association council reiterated that justice should be applied.
The Association council reiterated the obligation for the Russian Federation to fulfil its international obligations including under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, notably to withdraw its military forces from the territory of Georgia and remove all impediments for establishment of international security mechanisms therein. The Association council further urged the Russian Federation to provide EUMM access to the whole territory of Georgia, in line with its mandate. The Association council also called for access for international humanitarian and human rights mechanisms of relevant international organisations.
The Association council stressed the importance of ongoing support to people-to-people contacts and confidence building measures across the divides. In this respect, the Association council recalled its support for the Georgian peace initiative « A Step to a Better Future».
The EU commended Georgia's active participation in the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership and underlined that continued reform efforts in the partner countries are key to the success of the Eastern Partnership and to the EaP Summit scheduled for later this year.
The Association council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr Josep Borrell. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr. Irakli Garibashvili led the Georgian delegation.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Opposition Reacts to PM Irakli Garibashvili’s Call for “Dialogue”
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressed “healthy” parts of the opposition on February 23 evening, saying “we are ready for real dialogue at any time and in any format.”
The new-old Prime Minister proposed to “all reasonable opposition forces to enter the Parliament, so that we may use the country’s legislature as the main platform for discussion.” PM Garibashvili also said enforcing the law and the detention of Nika Melia, chair of the largest opposition UNM party was “a necessary condition for the reduction of radicalism in politics.”
Civil.ge offers opposition reactions to Garibashvili’s statement, as political crisis runs deep and tensions run high in the country.
Zaal Udumashvili of the United National Movement said „We are ready to sit down at the negotiating table, provided that Nika Melia will also be sitting at the table.”
European Georgia’s Giga Bokeria wondered: “How could the man, openly calling for the destruction of all the opponents, be [regarded] the supporter of a dialogue?!”“Whenever he [Garibashvili] gets back to reason, and discusses the release of political prisoners and the snap elections, that would be a different story,” Bokeria said, adding that “until then, his words are not [considered to be] serious.”
- Georgian Politicians React to UNM Office Raid, Melia Detention
- Police Storm UNM Office, Detain Nika Melia
- PM-Designate Garibashvili Prioritizes Restoring “Order”
Zurab Japaridze of the right-libertarian Girchi – More Freedom party said Garibashvili’s speech represents “a Russian and a criminal approach,” implying “I will imprison you, bully you and then I will come to talk to you.” This approach will not work out for them, Japaridze asserted.
He reiterated the opposition’s pre-conditions for the Georgian Dream government to stop “political persecution,” to release “political prisoners” and to hold new elections.
Lelo for Georgia’s Badri Japaridze said on his part: “I could not see a sign [in Garibashvili’s statement] for them [GD] to be truly eager to normalize the situation.”
During his confirmation hearing on February 22, Garibashvili called the major opposition parties’ parliamentary boycott “a deliberate sabotage against our state.” He then ruled out “categorically” any talks about holding snap elections.
From September 7 through September 18 multinational exercise Noble Partner 2020 will be held at the Vaziani military base
From September 7 through September 18 multinational exercise Noble Partner 2020 will be held at the Vaziani military aerodrome, the Vaziani drill ground and the Norio training area. Noble Partner 2020 will be officially opened at IV Mechanized Brigade, Vaziani on September 7. Prior to the official opening ceremony of NP20, an airborne operation will occur at VTA on September 1 by the 173rd Airborne Brigade (US) using C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Noble Partner is a cooperatively-led multinational training exercise in its fifth iteration which is aimed to enhance Georgian, U.S. and partner forces readiness and interoperability, as well as to contribute in maintaining stable and secure environment over the Black Sea region. That’s why the main message of the Noble Partner is - “Strength through Partnership”.
This year totally more than 2700 military servicemen from Georgia, USA, the UK, Poland and France will participate in multinational training. Together with the armored and combat vehicles, as well as artillery systems being in the armament of the Georgian Defense Forces, U.S. air support and armored vehicles will be engaged in the training.
The scenario of the combined multinational exercise includes command, staff and field training with live fire, engagement of maneuver and combat support elements in stability, defensive and offensive operations.
Three (3) media days are scheduled within Noble Partner 2020:
September 1 – 173rd Airborne Brigade’s airborne operation.
September 7 - Official opening ceremony of the exercise;
September 18 – DV Day/Closing ceremony
Media representatives interested in covering the above-mentioned events should apply for accreditation at the Ministry of Defense of Georgia starting from August 26 and ending on August 28 at 18:00 local time. Separate accreditation cards will be issued before each event.
A new partnership initiative to support primary health care launched in Georgia
A new partnership initiative to support primary health care launched in Georgia.
"Focusing and improving Georgia's primary healthcare is one of our top priorities" - Czech Ambassador to Georgia H.E. Petr Mikyska said at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Czech Development Agency (CzechAid) and UNICEF Georgia. The Memorandum was signed by the Ambassador on behalf of the Czech Development Agency and the Director of UNICEF Georgia Mr. Ghassan Khalil. Mrs. Tamar Gabunia, First Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, witnessed the signature.
Within the framework of the Memorandum, the Czech Development Agency and UNICEF unite their forces to support the strengthening of primary health care in Georgia, expanding the original CzechAid project (focused mainly on the adult population) to children, youth and maternity. The project was conceived in close cooperation with Georgian authorities, reflecting the urgent needs in this field.
In total, 46 primary health care facilities will be covered by the project, including 146 village doctors and nurses in Dusheti and Zugdidi municipalities. Project duration is from May 2020 till June 2023, with total funding by the Czech Government via CzechAid of 1.25 million EUR and UNICEF contribution of 70 000 USD with future expansion of around 85 000 USD.